2001-11-03 / Front Page

Halloween Week Hoaxes Sweep Peninsula

By Howard Schwach

Halloween Week Hoaxes
Sweep Peninsula
By Howard Schwach

Even under normal conditions, Halloween week is traditionally a hectic one for emergency responders and for teachers.

The past week, with American under attack and with fears of another terrorist attack and a continuing Anthrax scare gripping the city, police, EMS and fire units were kept hopping from one bogus response job to another.

Among the hoax calls that those units had to respond to were:

An Anthrax scare at the post office in Rockaway Park. No such substance was found, although The Wave received at least three calls about the threat, one claiming to be "an insider" who saw the powder.

At least a dozen reports of Anthrax found on West End streets. Pranksters had reportedly dumped bags of "white powder" in a number of areas.

A bomb scare at MS 198 that forced all of the students and staff from the building. No bomb was found after a police search.

A bomb scare at MS 53. No bomb was found.

Reports, which swept through the West End community, that the owners of several Beach 116 Street stores, including Pickles and Pies, The Tobacconist and Cozy Corner, had been arrested by the FBI (NYPD, Secret Service, Terrorist Task Force) for terrorist activities and immediately deported. As with the rumors that have been surfacing about immigrant storeowners since September 11, these proved to be false. The Wave, in fact, received several calls from those who professed to have seen the arrests "with their own eyes."

Reports in the media that "Arab-looking people" has gone to COSTCO and to other stores and bought thousands of dollars worth of candy that would be used to poison trick or treaters.

Reports in the media and on the Internet that "friends had been warned not to go near shopping malls on Halloween."

Police trained in biochemical protection have responded to each report of "suspicious powder." Police officials urge those who are perpetrating these hoaxes to stop.

"There are tough new laws against these kind of hoaxes," one police officer told The Wave. "What they are doing is not funny at all."

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